The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) recently announced its 2017 Post-Season Club Awards winners, including special recognitions for team accomplishments both on and off the field.
Sugar Land Skeeters President Jay Miller has been recognized as the Joe Klein Executive of the Year, and the Skeeters organization earned the Outstanding Club Community Service Award.
Miller, one of the most highly respected executives in professional baseball, was named Skeeters president in December 2015 and is a 36-year veteran working in major and minor league baseball. During two separate stints, he served more than a decade with the Round Rock Express as the inaugural general manager, team president and COO of Ryan Sanders Baseball.
Between stints with Round Rock, Miller served four years with the Texas Rangers as executive vice president focused on customer service. His dedication to superior customer service and overall fan experience has been an integral part of the Skeeters organization.
“Jay Miller has been a breath of fresh air to our organization,” said Skeeters co-owner Bob Zlotnik. “His can-do attitude, emphasis on teamwork and his personal commitment to customer service is contagious. This award is well deserved.”
The award takes on a special meaning following the recent passing of Atlantic League Executive Director Joe Klein, with whom Miller worked closely during his time with the Texas Rangers.
“This award is a huge honor since it’s voted on by my peers throughout the league, and I am very appreciative of the Zlotnik family for hiring me,” Miller said. “This award also has special meaning because of its namesake, Joe Klein, whom was my boss and a close friend of mine with the Rangers.”
The Sugar Land Skeeters have also been honored with the Outstanding Club Community Service Award. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, much of the greater Houston area was left in devastation and residents were displaced throughout the city. The Skeeters offered Constellation Field as an emergency shelter and staging area to help local residents and collected food, water, and clothing donations for those in need. Approximately 300 residents stayed at the ballpark as temporary shelter.
“I don’t believe opening our stadium as a temporary shelter is worthy of an award. It was the least we could do to help our community that has been so supportive of the Skeeters and Constellation Field,” said Skeeters co-owner Marcie Zlotnik. “I view it as an honor to be able to give back and really make a difference to those in need. I couldn’t be prouder of our staff and our community volunteers for their round-the-clock effort in making our guests feel welcome and as comfortable as possible.”
Following the hurricane, the Skeeters held a four-game home stand against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in which the organization collected fan donations and held a blood drive to assist the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. In addition to monetary donations, the Skeeters also collected school supplies and offered first responders and evacuees free admission for every remaining home game of the season. The Skeeters Baseball Foundation, spearheaded by owners Bob and Marcie Zlotnik, matched fan donations throughout the home stand for a total of $20,000 that was donated to disaster relief. Dozens of volunteers from the community were also able to help work concession stands due to displaced game day employees.
Josh Prince named post-season all-star
The ALPB announced its 2017 Post-Season All-Star team. Among the players who have earned post-season honors is Skeeters second baseman Josh Prince, who left an impressive mark on the 2017 season and was named the club’s Most Valuable Player this year.
The former Milwaukee Brewer tied his career-high for most homers in a season (11), ranked second in the league in walks (85) and fifth in runs scored (75) en-route to MVP honors this season. Prince also led the league in stolen bases with 55 on the 2017 season, shattering Sugar Land’s all-time stolen base record. In addition to setting the club’s single-season record for most steals, he also became the all-time stolen base leader in franchise history with 79 stolen bases in his first two years in Sugar Land.
Among the players joining Prince as post-season All-Stars are outfielder Sean Halton (Lancaster Barnstormers) who led the league for most home runs this season (26), as well as right-handed pitcher Gaby Hernandez (Southern Maryland Blue Crabs), who ranked first in ERA (2.80) and strikeouts (150) for the season. The full list of players selected to the 2017 Post-Season All-Star Team can be found at AtlanticLeague.com.
Bryan Pounds, Jake Hale make all-defensive team
The Atlantic League announced its selections for the 2017 Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team. Among the players who have earned post-season defensive honors are Skeeters third baseman Bryan Pounds and right-handed pitcher Jake Hale.
After being acquired in a trade from York earlier in the season, Pounds ranked among the elite defenders in the Atlantic League with a .947 fielding percentage at third base. In addition to recording 19 double plays, 61 putouts and 189 assists, the Houston native committed just 14 errors in 264 total chances for the season in 121 games.
“With all the adversity I faced this season, this is truly an honor to be named as one of the top defensive players in the league,” Pounds said. “As a player, I tried to bring everything I can to the table to help my team win. Although I had a tough season at the plate, I made sure to pick up my game on the defensive side of the field.”
In 2008, the former ATL All-Star was drafted out of the University of Houston by the Detroit Tigers in the 34th round and has always been spectacular defensively.
Hale started 24 games on the mound for the Skeeters and had one of the best seasons of his career. His defensive performance was a key contribution to his success as a pitcher this season.
“It’s an honor to be named to the All-Defensive Team, as there are a lot of great players in the Atlantic League,” Hale said. “To be named in a top bracket with those guys is incredible. After the successful year I had this is a great way to cap off the season. I’d like to thank the league for acknowledging my defense, which I take a lot of pride in.”
His defensive performance led to him being ranked second in the league for complete games (5), ERA (3.24), and third in wins (11) en-route to receiving Sugar Land’s 2017 Pitcher of the Year honors.